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Open AccessArticle

Online and Offline Communities in the Sharing Economy

Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, Princetonlaan 8a, 3584 CB Utrecht, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2927;
Received: 30 June 2018 / Revised: 13 August 2018 / Accepted: 15 August 2018 / Published: 17 August 2018
PDF [636 KB, uploaded 17 August 2018]


The online community is crucial to sharing economy platforms because without it, no transactions can take place. Online communities have been studied extensively, but so far, little attention has been paid to how they link to different offline communities, such as geographic (e.g., neighborhoods) and relational communities (e.g., friends and colleagues). In this study, we address this gap by examining the importance of communities to the users and the entrepreneurs of the goods-sharing platform Ecomodo. We conduct a qualitative content analysis of archival and interview data to uncover the importance of different communities and the relationships among them. We discover that the platform design aimed to facilitate lending and borrowing in relational communities. However, geographic communities were more important to the users since most of them joined the platform to be acquainted with their neighbors. We also find that the platform entrepreneurs underestimated the behavioral changes needed to use the platform. The producers were not used to asking for money to lend their possessions, and it was difficult to teach consumers to borrow instead of buying. We use these findings to offer recommendations to practitioners and discuss some avenues for further research. View Full-Text
Keywords: sharing economy; collaborative consumption; sustainable business models; P2P platforms; online community; community sharing economy; collaborative consumption; sustainable business models; P2P platforms; online community; community

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Vaskelainen, T.; Piscicelli, L. Online and Offline Communities in the Sharing Economy. Sustainability 2018, 10, 2927.

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